Gradual (2)


(Graduale, Grayl). Strictly only the first verse of the anthem sung was thus called. The rest was technically styled the "verse." The mode of singing it was not everywhere the same, but that in which one sang alone for a while and many responded was probably in use from the very infancy of the Church. From Easter eve to the Saturday in Whitsun week inclusively the Gradual was followed, and at last supplanted, by the Alleluia. This had been long known in the West, and used, though not prescribed, on public occasions of religious joy. At Rome it was only sung on Easter day.

The Tract was another anthem sometimes sung after the epistle. Originally it was always from the Book of Psalms. The Tract in all probability was nothing more than the Gradual as it was chanted in seasons of humiliation.

Very soon, however, a Tract was often sung after the Gradual; that is, a third verse was added to the anthem, which was sung continuously by the cantor without any assistance from the choir. The Gradual and Tract were sung from the same step of the ambo from which the epistle was read. The fact that the Gradual and Tract were both sung from the lesson-desk, and that by a single cantor detached thither, like the readers, from the choir, seems to indicate their common origin in that extended use of the Book of Psalms with the rest of Holy Scripture which we know to have prevailed during the first ages.

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